A crowd of protesters gathered at a Netflix office in California on Wednesday two weeks after the streamer's release of comedian Dave Chappelle's controversial new standup special.
Employees and activists attended a rally outside Netflix's headquarters in Los Angeles, protesting Netflix after it debuted Chappelle's latest special The Closer, Variety and the Los Angeles Times report. "Hundreds" of people were in attendance for the rally, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which came as Netflix staffers planned a virtual walkout over the company's response to the backlash. The rally also drew Chappelle supporters, one of whom held a sign reading, "Netflix Don't Cancel Free Speech."
Netflix has been facing growing controversy over The Closer, in which Chappelle says he's "team TERF," meaning trans-exclusionary radical feminist, among other comments and jokes about the LGBTQ community. The employees behind the virtual walkout made numerous demands, including asking Netflix to add a disclaimer to The Closer warning of "transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, and hate speech."
Ashlee Marie Preston, who organized Wednesday's rally in support of the employee walkout, blasted Netflix for "making money off of trauma to my community," per The Wall Street Journal. Joey Soloway, creator of Amazon's Transparent, also attended the rally and called on Netflix to place a transgender person its board "this f---ing week," Variety reports. "Trans people are in the middle of a holocaust," Soloway also said, adding, "the line is simple: stop making things worse."
Elliot Page, star of Netflix's The Umbrella Academy, was among the stars to back the walkout, tweeting, "I stand with the trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace." Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has defended the release of the Chappelle special, but the streamer on Wednesday acknowledged the "deep hurt that's been caused" and said it respects "the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out."